Big 12 defensive power rankings: Heeney maintains hold of No. 1 spot


No. 1: Kansas LB Ben Heeney

(Last week: 1)

Kansas will face Baylor this weekend and Heeney has the opportunity for a lot of tackles because the Bears run the ball more than anyone else in the conference. The chances that his team pulls the upset are infinitesimal, but Heeney could have a great individual performance on Saturday.

No. 2: TCU LB Paul Dawson

(Last week: 2)

TCU’s offense grabbed the headlines on against Texas Tech, but Dawson had a very impressive game too. He had 11 total tackles and two tackles for loss in the contest.

Dawson’s game last week moved him into first in the conference in tackles for loss per game. He is also tied for seventh in the nation in the same category. He has stayed steady in second in the conference in tackles behind Heeney, but averages the most tackles in conference matchups.

The Horned Frogs face a tough road test when they visit Morgantown, West Virginia on Saturday. The Mountaineers have a solid offense and have already upset Baylor at home this season. Dawson’s play is crucial for his team and if he isn’t at the top of his game, TCU could be on upset alert.

No. 3: Baylor DE Shawn Oakman

(Last week: 3)

Both teams will be coming off a bye week when Kansas travels to Waco, Texas on Saturday and Oakman could have a field day. The Jayhawks are last in the conference in scoring, total offense, passing offense, and they are eighth in rushing offense.

No. 4: Oklahoma CB Zack Sanchez

(Last week: 4)

The Sooners will be back in action this week and face Iowa State in Ames, Iowa. The Cyclones have their fair share of offensive problems and are eighth in the conference in scoring.

Junior quarterback Sam B. Richardson has thrown an interception in all but one of Iowa State’s conference games this season. Oklahoma has won every game in which Zack Sanchez has had a takeaway. It may not be crucial that he gets one on Saturday, but it definitely would not hurt his team’s cause.

No. 5: K-State LB Jonathan Truman

(Last week: 5)

Truman did not have an individually spectacular game last week against Texas, but he did lead the team with eight tackles. He didn’t accumulate any other statistics. What Truman was apart of against the Longhorns was special, though.

The Wildcats’ defense had a shutout and they also held Texas to just 90 yards on the ground and 106 yards through the air. He is the heart and soul of the defense that put up that impressive performance. The team would not be the same without him.

Truman and K-State face Oklahoma State this week and while the Cowboys have been ranked this season, they are not a great team. They have lost their last two games by a combined 57 points and their offense has scored a combined 19 points in the contests.

Oklahoma State is 71st in the nation in running the ball, which is what the Wildcats specialize in stopping. If Truman and his team keep playing at a high level, it could make their opponent one dimensional very quickly.

Austin Earl is a sophomore in fishing, wildlife and conservation biology.